City Council passes $1.1 billion 2014 budget

The proposed budget was amended Wednesday to provide funds for additional surveillance in the University’s area.

by Alexi Gusso

The Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved outgoing Mayor R.T. Rybak’s final budget Wednesday night, allocating additional funds to improve public safety citywide.

The city’s $1.1 billion 2014 budget includes a reduction in its property tax levy and provides funds for body video cameras for city police officers, jobs in the Minneapolis police and fire departments and more surveillance in the University of Minnesota’s district.

The one percent cut to the property tax-levy is the first decrease in three decades and possible because of a $12 million increase in state aid. 

The Ways and Means City Council committee met several times this month to amend the proposed budget. It is an increase of nearly $24.5 million from last year’s budget.

Wednesday, the full City Council voted to amend the proposed budget to include $75,000 for the Minneapolis police department to purchase and install a street camera in the University’s district to help combat crime.

“The purpose of this is to recognize the changing nature of the University district area,” Ward 3 City Councilwoman Diane Hofstede said at the meeting.

She represents the area covering parts of the University and surrounding neighborhoods.

The location for the new camera is undetermined at this time, Hofstede said.

On Dec. 5, Ward 13 City Councilwoman and mayor-elect Betsy Hodges proposed a $400,000 amendment to allocate funds for body cameras for Minneapolis police officers.

She said implementing the new cameras isn’t necessarily a guarantee with the budget boost.

“This does not require that program to move forward, nor does it specify particulars about the program,” Hodges said at the meeting. “What this does is make sure that when and if the program is ready to move forward there are dollars available in 2014.”

During her mayoral campaign, Hodges pushed for body cameras on police officers to combat police misconduct.

“I’m convinced that we will see less complaints and long term budget savings as a result of this reform,” outgoing Ward 9 City Councilman Gary Schiff said at the Dec. 5 meeting.

Also included in the 2014 budget is $4 million for the preliminary planning of the 3.4 mile Nicollet Avenue streetcar system, which the City Council approved in October. The full project is estimated to cost about $200 million.

Before the City Council adjourned Wednesday, several members thanked Rybak and Hodges for their leadership on budget issues.

Ward 7 Councilmember Lisa Goodman praised Rybak for working with “passion and gusto.”

“You left the city in a far better financial shape than anyone could remember,” she said at the meeting.